Chiefland outlasts Mayo Lafayette in overtime

Chiefland's Anthony Blackman makes a tackle on short pass

One yard was all that separated Chiefland from victory and defeat in an overtime regional semifinal home 28-27 win Friday over Lafayette (Mayo). 

Following Chiefland’s 2-yard Dakota Fisher touchdown run and a Dylan Cochran extra point kick put the Indians up 28-21, Lafayette quarterback Mario Thomas kept the ball for a 5-yard score. But the visiting Hornets decided to go for the win in the 1A-Region 3 playoff and Thomas was stopped one yard shy of the end zone on the 2-point conversion attempt. 

It was a far different contest following Chiefland’s 42-7 road win over the same Lafayette team on Oct. 15. 

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“Here’s a great thing about Mayo, they’re a great organization, great school, great kids, that’s who they are,” Chiefland coach Adam Gore said. “I know the last time [we played], it kind of snowballed on them and it wasn’t a representation of who they were, so I knew they were going to come out and play.”

Chiefland looked like they would take control when Fisher broke down the left sideline for a 73-yard touchdown on the third play from scrimmage. 

On the ensuing drive, the Hornets (8-4) responded in six plays when Carter Higginbothom snuck behind Chiefland’s defense for a wide open 17-yard touchdown reception. 

Chiefland quarterback Clint Thomas put the Indians back on top, 14-7, early in the second quarter on a 42-yard run and, following a missed Lafayette 30-yard field goal with 6:10 left in the half, the Indians were unable to capitalize by fumbling on the next play back to the Hornets. Four plays later, Mario Thomas plunged in the end zone on a 1-yard quarterback keeper to tie the score 14-14. 

“The more physical team in the first half was Mayo, they beat us up and down the field, we were fortunate to be 14-14 at the half,” Gore said. “I told them at halftime, I didn’t yell, I didn’t scream, I just said I’m excited to see how far they’ve grown and where they’re at in the second half and you can either wilt or cave or you can grit your teeth, bite your lip and go fight. I was proud of us to show fight and grit, things didn’t go our way at times, but we found a way to win and I’m just happy for the kids.”

With momentum on its side heading into the half, Lafayette struck again on the first play of the third quarter when Mario Thomas found Nic’kel Freeman on a 63-yard touchdown pass to put the Hornets ahead, 21-14. 

Chiefland's Donovan Minichello celebrates after a 33-yard TD 3rd quarter reception.

Later in the third quarter, Clint Thomas connected on a 33-yard pass to Donovan Minichello to tie the contest at 21. 

After a scoreless fourth quarter that featured two Lafayette punts and a Chiefland turnover on downs on 4th-and-1, a punt and an interception, the contest went into overtime. 

“Here’s the thing about our kids, we’re really young and you can only tell them so much. They’ve got to be in there, they’ve got to see people and go through experiences like this to grow, so I’m proud of them and proud of how they responded,” said Gore. 

The Indians (10-1) advance to the regional finals, where they will host 12-0 Union County (Lake Butler) next Friday. The Tigers defeated Hilliard on the road, 52-14, on Friday.

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